This past weekend, I had the opportunity to teach several essential oils classes at Wanderlust festival, a consumer focused health event that integrates yoga, meditation, inspirational speakers and this year VIibrant Blue Oils! The most common question related to internal ingestion of essential oils. I know that many companies in the essential oil space market their oils as being “pure” enough to consume internally. The reality is that most essential oils actually come from the same place. For example, sandalwood, frankincense, copaiba or helichrysum oil are grown in very specific regions of the world and can only be purchased through certain wholesalers. You simply can’t grow these oils on a dedicated farm in Idaho. So we are all purchasing from the same suppliers in the indigenous area where the plant grows, the purity and quality is consistent across the board. The following includes reasons why I do not recommend ingesting Essential Oils.
Why I Do Not Recommend Ingesting Essential Oils
I do not recommend ingesting essential oils. It’s not because our oils aren’t “pure” enough, “safe” enough, or “good” enough. It’s because essential oils are very powerful, and they need to be handled with care.
Several studies show that taking essential oils internally is, in fact, the least effective way to absorb their therapeutic properties. The oil often winds up in the digestive tract where it has to pass through the stomach and the small intestine before it reaches the bloodstream. This process can chemically alter the essential oils and can be toxic to the liver or the kidneys. And remember, the front door of the digestive system is often compromised, so why would you want to inhibit the effectiveness of these powerful healing remedies?
Is It a Good Idea to Add Essential Oils to Your Water?
I know that people love to add a few drops of Lemon™ essential oil to water. They claim it helps detoxify the body and it is their favorite usage for Lemon™ oil. My favorite use for lemon oil is to dissolve the Sharpie marker lines that my talented young artist leaves on the kitchen room table. It’s true, pure lemon oil is the only tool in my cleaning supply arsenal, including water or other stain removing products, that can make permanent marker ink disappear. Knowing that, I do worry about what it might do to the delicate lining of the digestive system.
I also worry about the fact that oil and water don’t mix. This is one of the reasons I recommend mixing essential oils with Epsom salt before adding them to a healing bath, so the oil doesn’t float on top. In terms of adding essential oils to your drinking water, the essential oils don’t dissolve in water the oil is not evenly dispersed. This makes it harder for your body to assimilate the essential oil into its system. Further, the little droplets of essential oils that float around in your stomach and this can lead to irritation of the very sensitive mucus membranes of the stomach. It is not surprising that the most common adverse effect from ingestion of essential oils is stomach irritation, according to Essential Oil Safety Expert Robert Tisserand.
That said, I have talked to many people who claim benefits from adding the oils to water and drinking it. As you drink the water, you inhale the essential oils, so it is likely through the olfactory channel, not the digestive tract, that the oils and their benefits are being assimilated into the body. The oils might also be absorbed more directly into the bloodstream through the highly sensitive capillaries in the mouth, bypassing the digestive tract.
Do Essential Oils Work Internally?
I am not saying that essential oils do not work internally. I do believe there can be therapeutic value in ingesting very specific essential oils for short periods of time to address a specific issues, but only under the care of a knowledgeable practitioner. Another internal option is the use of anal suppositories that contain essential oils . Suppositories can be highly effective, especially for intestinal issues. They also allow a direct channel the body that effectively bypasses the breakdown processes of the liver.
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